Anderson game store owners reflect on the pandemic and its impact | Local News

ANDERSON – If customers had visited Reader Copies, now located on Scatterfield Road in Anderson, before the COVID-19 pandemic, what they might have seen inside would be very different from today.

Once the location of many events and tournaments, the store could accommodate up to 100 people to play games like Pokémon, Magic or Yu-Gi-Oh! for prices.

Today, the events that kept the store open until 3 a.m. in the past are much smaller and more casual, taking place on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. What were once groups of 75 to 85 Yu-Gi-Oh! players became a maximum of 10-12 people. Rembert Parker, the store owner, now comes home at 5:30 p.m. every day.

“It was much, much bigger – a lot more people and a lot more events and we just scaled that down,” Parker said. “We used to run Dungeons & Dragons in the store. We can’t do that now because if I leave at 5:30 p.m., people want to come at 6 p.m. and play until two in the morning.

Turning just 72 this year, Parker has been through different eras of gaming and comics. Reader Copies started in the 1980s as a comic book store, a type of entertainment that has almost no customers, he says. Selling these comics quickly became one of Parker’s biggest challenges once the store reopened after its initial two-month pandemic shutdown. This was due to a change in distributors and an inability to make a profit when transitioning to online and online ordering.

“Even though we could sell things, people couldn’t come into the store. They couldn’t even come to the door and ask me to hand them something. They had to go back to their car, call us and I could deliver to their car,” Parker described. “If someone really wanted to go through dice or look at numbers or find an old comic book, you couldn’t do that.”

Now that the pandemic has come to a head, Parker hopes to remain a more laid-back store with what he describes as the best comic book selection in town. For games, he assures that there will always be a place to play, as many customers who visited his store in the early 2000s opened their own stores.

Gamer Dojo is another Anderson game store, located on 10th Street. Owner Jason Neal opened just after the pandemic hit in March 2020 after initially operating through an online-only store that sold cards, collectibles and trading card games, more commonly referred to as “TCG “. For Neal, opening the store when he did was a good decision for one major reason.

“At that time, there was a collector boom and card prices were going very high,” he explained. “You saw the demand for them increase at places like Walmart and Target that sold these types of cards.”

At this point, what Neal describes as the “card shortage” has passed, mask mandates have ended, and restrictions on large gatherings have eased, but one thing remains: a community of gamers playing with each other. others, whether virtually or in person. For Neal, that connection is all he needs, although he wouldn’t mind becoming a bigger store with bigger events “if that’s in the cards”.

“It’s just a hobby, something I do in my spare time and something I’ve loved doing since I was young. Right now, I’m very happy to just have a little hardware store with friends coming over to play games,” he said.